Kelly Sees Big Potential in Little Bruce Ellington - NBC Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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Kelly Sees Big Potential in Little Bruce Ellington

After studying film, 49ers' new head coach views Ellington, a little-used wide receiver and kick returner, as "intriguing"

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    Niners receiver and returner Bruce Ellington (No. 10) picks up some yards against the Giants in a 2015 game. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

    In two seasons with the 49ers, Bruce Ellington has a grand total of just 19 catches for 153 yards.

    While the 49ers have loved his speed and explosiveness since taking him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of South Carolina, Ellington has had a tough time fighting his way into the wide receiver rotation.

    But that may change under new head coach Chip Kelly.

    Though Kelly has said in the past he prefers big-target wideouts, he says Ellington, at just 5-foot-9, is one of the team’s more “intriguing” players. He loves to see Ellington’s potential on tape.

    “When you look at just the short time that I’ve seen just film of him, you’re like, ‘Wow, that kid can do some interesting things,’ ” Kelly told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “Then it’s our job to figure out how we can use that to help us win games.”

    According to Barrows, Ellington was on the field just 14 percent of the 49ers’ offensive snaps in 2015.

    Because Kelly’s spread offense often uses three-wide receiver sets, there is potential for Ellington to get more playing time in 2016. His speed, certainly, sets him apart.

    In one 2015 preseason game, against the Broncos for instance, Ellington had three catches for 38 yards, including two that that went for first downs. He also drew a pass interference call.

    After that game, then-head coach Jim Tomsula called Ellington “explosive.”

    When general manger Trent Baalke selected Ellington in 2014, one analyst called Ellington “the steal of the entire draft” because of his potential as a slot receiver and return man.

    In three years returning kicks at South Carolina, Ellington had a 22.7-yard average. He also had 106 catches for 775 yards and 16 touchdowns with a 15.-8-yard per-catch average. With San Francisco, Ellington has gotten most of his work on special teams. He’s returned 42 punts for a 7.7-yard average and 50 kickoffs for a 25.6-yard average, with a career-long of 40.

    Now it appears Ellington has caught Kelly’s attention, which may bode well for him in 2016.